Ever wondered what’s in Kissimmee apart from Walt Disney World Resort? Turns out, there’s so much to do that you won’t even have to think about setting foot near the huge theme park but still have as much fun! Take a look at what we’d recommend and get booking your package holiday to Kissimmee today.
This family-run theme park was the first to be built in Kissimmee and has a unique twist that won’t be found anywhere else in the area, hundreds of alligators. When we say hundreds, we mean it…they are everywhere and love spending their days sunbathing so you’re guaranteed to come across some when you’re walking around the park.
Those looking for thrills should consider having a go on the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line, it can reach speeds of up to 40mph and is the only zip line in America that has disabled access – it really is great fun for all. Be prepared as you hurl yourself across open water and zip over live alligators who love to come and watch.
There’s also Adventure Hour if you want to know what it’s like to look after alligators, not only will you be able to get close to the gators, you’ll also have the chance to hand feed (throw the food) to the gators and watch them chomp it down.
Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures
Always wanted to visit the Everglades National Park but not sure how? Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures is a great choice. Sat in the headwaters of the Everglades, this is a fantastic place to go and enjoy the quiet serenity that’s sometimes hard to find in Florida, as well as having the chance to try and spot some gators while aboard a huge airboat.
There’s no set route when you head out on the airboat and seeing gators isn’t guaranteed but it’s very likely, even if you just see a pair of eyes appear at the top of the water. The tranquillity and quietness of the place is enough to keep customers coming back time and time again on a trip to Kissimmee. The sunset rides are particularly beautiful with the sun reflecting off the headwaters of the Everglades but it’s worth noting that it’s much less likely to see a gator on these evening tours as it’s a bit colder and alligators love the sun and sunbathing so tend to hide away when the sun starts going down.
Once the ride is over, there’s a chance to visit a Native American workshop, which is hosted by a very informative Native American who gets you really involved in his stories. It’s fascinating to listen to and there are even some authentic Native treasures to take a look at.
If you want thrills without the rides, embark on one of Kissimmee’s fantastic ghost tours! You’ll meet in Kissimmee’s historic downtown district and embark on a chilling walk where you will hear tales of murder, mayhem and mystery. Be prepared as you may come across the headless horseman that enjoys returning to downtown Kissimmee regularly and rides through the area, or keep an eye out for the young girl who loves to play in the park on the swings.
Whether you believe in ghosts or not, it makes for a really fun night out with family or with a group of friends. It’s even encouraged that you take your camera with you to capture some paranormal shots along the way. If you want to learn about Kissimmee’s history with a fun twist, this is the tour for you.
Old Town Kissimmee
To carry on with the historic themes, head to Old Town Kissimmee, which is almost like taking a step back in time and boasts unique shops, restaurants, attractions and rides. Why not take a ride on the Ferris wheel there and take in the incredible sights of Kissimmee. For those looking for souvenirs to take home, Old Town Kissimmee is a great place for unique gifts such as NFL memorabilia, classic hot sauces and old heritage souvenirs.
If you head down to Old Town on a Friday, car lovers will rejoice as there is an incredible procession of vintage cars, from sports cars to trucks and more. You’ll have the chance to take a look at all the cars, as well a chat to the owners (if they are by their cars at the time) and eventually watch as they take a slow drive around Old Town – it’s a great way to spend a Friday. If you want to get your adrenaline pumping, head next door to Fun Spot for great rides and thrills that you can enjoy again and again.
Shopping in Orlando
The best shopping in Orlando can be found at malls and factory outlets such as Pointe Orlando, The Mall at the Millenia, Florida Mall, Orlando Premium and Lake Buena Vista factory stores. There is also a wide variety of retail options, including outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment hubs like Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort, Universal CityWalk at Universal Orlando Resort, and, ICON Orlando 360 on International Drive.
The Mall at Millenia – indoor shopping in Orlando
Considered one of the best luxury shopping in Orlando destinations, The Mall at Millenia is a great destination for a relaxing day out. It is an indoor shopping mall with, with over 150 of the finest stores, services and eateries, including 40 market exclusive stores many of which are designer labels. The Mall at Millenia provides an unparalleled shopping experience with an array of luxury boutiques and in-demand brands, including: Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Bvlgari, Gucci, SAINT LAURENT, Tiffany & Co., Ted Baker London, Apple, Sephora, Abercrombie & Fitch, Under Armour, H&M, plus Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s department stores. World-class dining options include The Capital Grille, The Cheesecake Factory, PF Chang’s, Brio Tuscan Grille and Earls Kitchen + Bar.
It also holds some great fashion events throughout the year – it throws its own Fashion Week in September, with events peppered with food, entertainment, and, of course, the latest looks! They also always have art installations throughout the building and special meet-and-greet opportunities around Easter and Christmas. Finally, the location offers some great amenities, such as currency exchange, a personal shopper, and a concierge service, if desired.
The Mall at Millenia is the perfect place for the ideal pampered shopping in Orlando experience.
The Mall at Millenia is open Monday – Saturday, 10 AM to 9 PM, and Sunday, 11 AM to 7 PM.
The Florida Mall – Indoor shopping in Orlando with family experiences.
Central Florida’s largest shopping in Orlando mall, The Florida Mall is home to over 250 stores – and with over 20 million visitors per year, it really is a spectacle to behold. Just recently, it opened a brand-new Dining Pavilion, featuring 22 eateries ranging from healthy to not-so-healthy cuisine. It also boasts a newly-opened 3,000-square-foot Play Park, which is perfect for little ones to entertain themselves while the older folks go shopping.
The Florida Mall has more to offer than shopping, though. The Crayola Experience is a one-of-a-kind attraction that combines color, chemistry, and digital technology to create an unforgettable experience for the whole family. M&M’s World has a location here, as well – one out of only five physical stores around the world. Finally, the American Girl Store is another unique experience that is only found in certain locations in the US; the store itself offers the Bistro, where children can eat with their dolls, as well as various events every week.
The Florida Mall is more than just a shopping destination – it’s a great time for the whole family.
The Florida Mall is Central Florida’s largest shopping center. Spanning 1.8 million square feet and welcoming more than 20 million visitors annually, this dynamic shopping destination offers an experiential environment featuring more than 250 retail, dining and entertainment options enjoyed by domestic and international guests, residents and families alike. Prominent department and anchor stores Macy’s, Dillard’s, JCPenney and Dick’s Sporting Goods complement best of brand retailers like A/X Armani Exchange, Apple, Banana Republic, H&M, MAC Cosmetics, Michael Kors, Mayors Jewellers featuring Rolex, Victoria’s Secret and ZARA.
Exclusive to The Florida Mall, American Girl, Carlo’s Bakery, the Crayola Experience attraction, M&M’s World and The Disney Store distinguish the property as a must-visit family shopping destination.
The Florida Mall is open Monday – Friday, 10 AM to 9 PM, Saturday, 10 AM to 10 PM, and Sunday, 12 PM to 8 PM.
Orlando Premium Outlets – Outside shopping in Orlando
Conveniently located on either end of International Drive, the Orlando Premium Outlets are two incredible shopping in Orlando destinations: the Orlando International Premium Outlets are located at the northern end of I-Drive, near Universal Orlando Resort, and have 180 different stores to choose from; the Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets are located at the southern end of the road, closer to the Walt Disney World Resort, and contain 160 stores. Both are incredibly easy to get to, as they are both on the I-Ride Trolley line, which is accessible from over 120 ideally-placed stops along International Drive and Universal Boulevard.
The Orlando Premium Outlets, while an open-air shopping location, do offer awnings and partially-covered walkways, to make shopping pleasant even in the afternoon rainstorms Orlando is known for. There are also air-conditioned and enclosed central dining locations at each outlet mall, which is a perfect midday rest point. The Orlando Premium Outlets offer discounts on designers – like Armani, Prada, and Kate Spade – as well as the Disney Character Warehouse, where merchandise from the Disney parks can be found at a markedly cheaper price.
Orlando International Premium Outlets is Florida’s largest outlet shopping destination Spanning over 773,586 square feet. The center welcomes more than 17MM visitors annually and is an iconic destination in the heart of Orlando’s booming hospitality industry. The center is conveniently located just minutes from Universal Orlando Resort and 10 miles from Walt Disney World Resort. Visitors will enjoy unparalleled shopping in more than 180 outlet designer and name-brand outlet stores including adidas, Tory Burch, Calvin Klein, Hugo Boss, Lacoste, The North Face, Polo Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, Neiman Marcus Last Call, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, St. John Outlet, Ted Baker London, Forever 21, Kate spade New York, Nike, Steve Madden, Tommy Hilfiger, Under Armour, Victoria’s Secret (only outlet in market), Francesca’s Collections (first outlet location) and Salvatore Ferragamo. Hours of Operation: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores
Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores boasts 50 of the world’s best-known and sought-after outlet stores, including several one-of-a-kind retailers that cannot be found anywhere else for shopping in Orlando. This shopping gem is located just minutes from the entrance to Walt Disney World Resort and area theme parks and features spacious stores with an abundance of merchandise at incredible discounted prices. Shoppers love these outlets as they can park FREE every day, from open to close, directly in front of the stores.
DESIGNER OUTLET SHOPS: Aeropostale, Avanti Sunglass Studio, Beyond Tech, Calvin Klein-men & women, Carter’s, Converse, Crocs, dressbarn (ROZ & ALI), Eddie Bauer Outlet, Express Factory Outlet, Fossil, Gap, G By Guess, Just Watches, Justice, Levi’s®, Loft, Nike Factory Store, OshKosh, Old Navy Outlet, Rack Room Shoes, Rawlings, Reebok, SAS Shoes, Samsonite Factory Store, Swimwear Outlet, Timberland Factory Store, Travelpro Luggage Outlet, Tommy Hilfiger – men, women & children, U.S. Polo. Under Armour, Van Heusen|Izod, Vitamin World, VF Outlet, Wilsons Leather.
SPECIALTY SHOPS: Book Warehouse, BR Concept Brands, Fit N Shoes, leBlush Cosmetics, Perfume Outlet, Theme Park Outlet. Hours of Operation: Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Disney Springs – Outdoor shopping in Orlando with family experiences.
The newest shopping in Orlando location, Disney Springs has, over the past two years, added 150 new tenants and doubled the location’s shopping space. Leaning in on the theme that the area is an old water-bottling plant that has been retrofitted into a shopping and entertainment district (like the High Line in New York City), Springs has a similar feel to the Grove or the Americana shopping districts out in Los Angeles, California. There is a great mix of food, stores, and entertainment throughout, from the AMC Dine-In movie theater to the Strolling Piano.
Not only does Disney Springs offer some great shopping – like Sephora, Free People, Under Armour, and UNIQLO – it also has unique Disney stores that can only be found in a place that has that Mouse magic. There are also activities for the whole family to do here: The Void is a new virtual-reality experience that immerses the guest in a 3D environment based off of one of Disney’s intellectual properties, and there is also great night-life for those of-age, like The Edison, a roaring-’20s, Steampunk-inspired nightclub/speakeasy with entertainment and great food and drink options to fill anybody’s night with unforgettable fun.
With free parking and hours that extend from 10:00 am to 2:00 am Thursday to Sunday (and to midnight on the other nights), Disney Springs is the perfect addition to any Orlando vacation. Fri.-Sat., 10 a.m.-2 a.m.; Sun.-Thurs., 10 a.m.-12 a.m.
International Drive has undergone a revitalization effort these past few years, creating brand-new shopping and entertainment options that are perfect for the whole family. Near the Orange County Convention Center is Pointe Orlando, a great place for a night (or day) of fun. Home to the Regal Pointe Orlando movie theater, and other entertainment options like Hard Knocks Laser Tag, Improv Comedy Club, Main Event Entertainment, and Monkey Joe’s (for the little ones), the location is a great destination to unwind at after a busy day. It also has some great shops like Charming Charlie, Tommy Hilfiger, and Hollister – and this doesn’t even begin to mention the plethora of great dining options they have available, from fast-casual to upscale. With new experiences still to come in 2019, Pointe Orlando is a great place to spend some time on your Orlando vacation.
Additionally, Icon Orlando 360 is a newer shopping in Orlando and entertainment district that opened in 2015 and was rebranded with its current name just last year. Home to the massive Icon Orlando Ferris wheel, Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, and Sea Life Aquarium, there is fun for everybody here. Along with 15 great dining options (with three more expected to open in 2020 – including Blake Shelton’s Ole Red restaurant), there are fantastic shops, such as Tervis, able to fulfil any souvenir needs.
Shopping till you drop is easy at Pointe Orlando thanks to more than a dozen specialty retailers. Choose from well-known national and international names like Tommy Hilfiger, Hollister and Victoria’s Secret, or get eclectic with choices like the celebrity-inspired collections at Filthy Rich or diecast cars at 1 for the Road.
Most people’s perception of entertainment in Orlando is the theme parks, but there are lots more choices of family/adult than you think. Here are a suggested few:
Pirates Dinner Adventure Orlando– One of Orlando attractions Broadway-style musicals
A swashbuckling show of banditry and bravery upon the high seas, full of action, romance, and comedy, in addition to the spectacular stunts, dazzling special effects, enchanting singing, amazing aerial act during a dinner show. You eat on a replica of an 18th-century ship which is anchored in an indoor lagoon.
Sleuths Mystery Dinner Theatre- A crime solving entertainment in Orlando
A fun interactive experience for the whole family, guest who experience fine dining also play a part in the solving the mystery as actors involve them in the plot. Every clue you need to figure out the murder and their motive is given during the course of the show…but subtly. Taking the themed dining option to a new level, the Sleuths Mystery Dinner Theatre puts you and your family into one of the many different plays. Whether you find yourself in a wedding, a tropical vacation, a family reunion, or something else entirely, you can be sure that someone will be murdered and it will be up to you to determine who did it and how they accomplished the job.
Outta Control Magic Dinner Show– A magical entertainment in Orlando
Enjoy a delicious meal, the laughs and chuckles won’t end as the audience becomes a part of this hilarious comedy dinner show. There is mind reading, and vanishing acts as Illusionist Tony Brent wows the crowd with magic, comedy, and hilarious impersonations, expect some audience interaction.
Treasure Tavern Burlesque, Comedy & Magical Dinner Show– One of the adult things to do in Orlando
This adult only dinner and show will give you a nice break from the kids as you enjoy acrobatics, comedy, great food, and live music at The Treasure Tavern Burlesque, Comedy & Magical Dinner Show
Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament –
Set in a replica of an 11th century castle, the restaurant is an active dining experience that involves Andalusian stallions and 6 actors dressed in incredible coats of armour, yielding real weapons battle it out in a series of challenges of steel, steed and falconry. One of the Knights entertainment in Orlando to remember!
Visitor Toll Pass™ is the smart alternative to costly rental car toll programs. Use Visitor Toll Pass™ to pay tolls electronically while traveling on any toll road throughout Florida. Visitor Toll Pass™ is accepted at all electronic toll collection points, allowing you to travel nonstop without fumbling for cash. Plus, you will pay a reduced toll rate – with no additional fees or charges.
Each year hurricane season is from June to November, with the worst usually in August and September. Knowing how to prepare for a hurricane could truly be a life saver.
Some Hurricane facts
Understanding what a hurricane is and the differences between them are always helpful. forecasts. Storm conditions can vary on the intensity, size and even the angle which the tropical cyclone approaches your area, so it is vital you understand what the forecasters and news reporters are telling you.
Tropical Depressions are cyclones with winds of 38 mph. Tropical Storms vary in wind speeds from 39-73 mph while Hurricanes have winds 74 mph and greater. Typically, the upper right quadrant of the storm (the centre wrapping around the eye) is the most intense portion of the storm. The greatest threats are damaging winds, storm surge and flooding (especially for the coastal areas)
These are some of the important terms you will hear:
Tropical Storm Watch: Tropical storm conditions are possible in the area.
Hurricane Watch: Hurricane conditions are possible in the area.
Watches are issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical storm force winds.
Tropical Storm Warning: Tropical storm conditions are expected in the area.
Hurricane Warning: Hurricane conditions are expected in the area.
Warnings are issued 36 hours in advance of tropical storm force winds.
Eye: Clear, sometimes well-defined centre of the storm with calmer conditions.
Eye Wall: Surrounding the eye, contains some of the most severe weather of the storm with the highest wind speed and largest precipitation.
Rain Bands: Bands coming off the cyclone that produce severe weather conditions such as heavy rain, wind and tornadoes.
Storm Surge: An often underestimated and deadly result of ocean water swelling as a result of a landfalling storm, and quickly flooding coastal and sometimes areas further inland.
During a watch, prepare the rental villa and have an evacuation plan in case a warning is issued. During a warning, carefully follow the directions of officials, and immediately leave the area if they advise it. In the event of an Extreme Wind Warning/Advisory, which means that extreme sustained winds of 115 mph or greater are expected to begin within an hour, immediately take shelter in the interior portion of the villa, this should be a room with no windows, or it could be the hall way.
Predicting a tropical cyclone’s path can be difficult; there are many g factors that can change the direction or position and so you need to keep updated with the latest information. The storm’s size and path can directly influence what sort of wind patterns guide, enhance or hinder its growth, and vice versa! Forecasters have computers that take huge amounts of data and try to predict where the storm will go and usually can calculate 2-3 days out fairly accurately. The National Hurricane Centre has the most up-to-date information on tropical cyclone developments, forecasts and weather alerts, discussions analysing the data and more. http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/
Hurricane names are picked randomly, then rotated and recycled every 6 years. If a hurricane was catastrophic or severely deadly and costly (i.e. Charlie, Katrina, Irene) it is officially retired since use is not appropriate and can be confusing when naming current storms.
It is important to create a kit of supplies that you could take with you if you are forced to evacuate. This kit will also be useful if you are able to stay in the rental villa, but are still affected by the storm, such as through the loss of power. One common trend seen when hurricanes are approaching is a wide-spread panic. When this happens, people rush in large numbers to get all the supplies they think they need. This is very difficult when you are on holiday/vacation because you may just be arriving. However you should do your best to prepare the following kit so that should you be evacuated you can easily take it with you and should you stay in the rental villa you are prepared to “wait out the storm” should you loose power. These are just a quick list of some essential things we would recommend
Non-perishable food (enough to last at least 4 days) dried and canned food is recommended, remember if the power goes off you will have no refrigerator or cooker so make sure the food you get can still be eaten.
Water (enough to last at least 4 days, 1 gallon per day per person is the recommended amount)
Ensure you have enough prescription medication
Flashlights (have extra batteries on hand enough to last 4 days)
Battery operated radio (again, have extra batteries)
Waterproof container with cash and important documents (bank ATM’s may go down and electronic payments may not be possible, so the cash is a must)
Manual can opener
Books, magazines, games for recreation
Baby supplies if applicable
Personal hygiene items and sanitation items if applicable
Cooler and ice packs
A plan for evacuation and for if family members are separated
Securing The rental villa
Bring in all outdoor furniture, garbage cans, decorations, and anything else that is not tied down inside.
In the event a storm should leave you without power, there are a few things to consider and help you be ready and stay safe outside of your normal hurricane preparedness.
Gas/Fuel: Make sure your tank is full far in advance of an approaching storm. Gas stations run out fast.
ATMS: Have extra cash on hand in the event no ATMS in your area are accessible or working.
Mobile (Cell) Phones: Charge your cell phone and limit use after power is out, ensure you charge any additional battery packs you may have.
A/C: This can be the most uncomfortable side effect of losing power during a storm. Try to prevent as much light from entering and warming the house by covering up your windows on the inside.
Water: Fill bathtubs and large containers with water for washing and flushing only.
Food: Turn your fridge temperature down and/or freeze any food or drinking water that can be frozen if you expect a power outage.. Have a cooler with ice packs prepared to cool your drinks and snacks after power has been out for more than 4 hours.
During a Hurricane
During the storm, howling winds, driving rain, and the threat of tornadoes can make riding out a hurricane scary. Follow these tips for staying safe in the rental villa during a hurricane:
Stay inside and away from windows, skylights, and glass doors. Find a safe area (an interior room like a closet or bathroom on the lower level).
If flooding threatens your home, turn off electricity at the main breaker.
If you lose power, turn off major appliances such as the air conditioner and water heater to reduce damage.
Do not use electrical appliances, including your computer.
Do not go outside. If the eye of the storm passes over your area, there will be a short period of calm, but at the other side of the eye, the wind speed rapidly increases to hurricane force and will come from the opposite direction. Also, do not go outside to see “what the wind feels like.” It is too easy to be hit by flying debris.
Beware of lighting, stay away from electrical equipment and don’t use the phone or take a bath/shower during the storm.
After a Hurricane
More deaths and injuries occur after a hurricane hits than during. This is because people are too anxious to get outside and survey the damage and come into contact with downed power lines or unstable trees. Follow these suggestions for staying safe after a hurricane:
Remain indoors until an official “all clear” is given.
Do not touch fallen or low-hanging wires of any kind under any circumstances. Stay away from puddles with wires in or near them. Do not touch trees or other objects in contact with power lines.
Use phones for emergencies only andcall 911 only for life-threatening situations.
Watch for weakened roads, bridges, tree limbs, porches that could collapse unexpectedly, and never drive through floodwaters of any level.
After power is restored, check refrigerated food for spoilage.
Remember, any severe storm can be deadly and destructive. If you’ve survived a landfilling cyclone, you know the inconvenience and distress it can cause. One of the best tips to be prepared is knowing the cycle of a cyclone – Approach, Arrival & Aftermath. Prepare ahead of time and listen to the directions of officials for the approach. Secure the rental villa, or find a safe shelter for its arrival, and know how to proceed safely during the aftermath.